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Deluxe Toy & Hobby in Martins Ferry has something for everyone

T-L Photo/J.D. LONG Samantha and Matthew Kendall window shop and dream of Christmas after leaving the store.

MARTINS FERRY — Just when you thought it was safe to go back into a toy store again, beware because you may not leave for hours or more than your pocket could have planned.

To say the Deluxe Toy & Hobby store at 501 Hanover St. in Martins Ferry has everything that anyone could want is an understatement. The inventory won’t just make a kid’s dreams come true – it goes beyond one’s imagination.

There are three floors filled to the brim after 65 years in the business seeing toys come and go. Forty-five of those years have been at the Hanover location.

Good luck picking a route down an aisle, because there is so much to see that one can find themselves going down the same aisle twice without realizing it.

Owners Mike and Constance Yeso pour their love and, yes, admiration for everything toys into the store, and they said they really do work at it.

Walking the aisles you will see things you haven’t seen since being a kid and if you are a kid, you’re in heaven because if you want it, they’ve got it. This includes everything from trains to race cars, stuffed animals and board games that you’ve never heard of as well as board games and toys you thought were extinct. There are puzzles, various sports versions of Monopoly games, plenty of John Deere trucks and a neat puzzle that includes all the NFL helmets.

“My wife and I work very hard,” Mike Yeso said of managing the store and maintaining the vast inventory, which includes their warehouse just down the street. Each year the Yesos travel to New York City for the American Toy Fair, where they’ve gone for 43 years except for the past two when COVID knocked it out.

Yeso said they look at more than 300,000 toys to choose from, and they’re careful about what they buy but are aggressive in their choosing.

“If we like it maybe someone else will,” he said. “We make hundreds of thousands of decisions in a given year.”

They don’t sell everything and refer to video games as an example. Yeso said he’d like to see kids get their heads away from computers and toward more physical fun like board games and such instead of an iPad. He wants children to learn things and feels the store’s toys can help.

He called his business and its longevity standing the “test of time,” where they still sell things one might call old fashion.

“You can come here and still get a Whoopee Cushion,” he said with a laugh. “We kind of have that wow factor.”

Yeso said he enjoys the look on a kid’s face when he sees them walk through the door.

There’s no website except for the one they’re currently working on, though the store does have a Facebook page. He noted some companies have their stock available online, but for the Yesos, that would be very time consuming. He said they basically just have too much for listing online.

They still see traveling salesmen come to visit but note how they’ve outlived the former chains like Toys R Us and KB Toys.

“We’re here every day,” Yeso said proudly. “I’d like to think we’re the pulse of the community.” And they have at least one award to back it up. Ohio Magazine, in 2020, named Deluxe Toy & Hobby one of the best toy stores in the state of Ohio. But Yeso doesn’t stop there.

“We’re one of the largest in the United States,” he said when it comes to toy stores, adding that there probably aren’t more than 10 that are larger, if that many. And service is their motto. While many of the large chain stores have done away with things like a lay-away plan, Yeso’s store still has it.

“We’re really known for our service,” Yeso said. “That’s what keeps the magic of Christmas alive.”

He even saw a 95-year-old man come in because he never had a train so his kids bought him one. And the people come from everywhere and nearly every continent. A display on the wall shows just the United States and pins marking every place customers have come from, including China, various countries in Europe and Russia.

The business is all family run with two sisters-in-law, their daughters and even the grandkids showing up to pitch in. Constance’s parents began the business back in 1955 with the simple thought of what to do with an empty building: “Lets try toys!”

Yeso sums the store’s long history up with one simple word: “Serendipity.”

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